An interview with…Paul Daniels

A brilliant showman as well as a fantastic magician, Paul Daniels became a household name thanks to his many television shows, including the eponymous The Paul Daniels Magic Show. More recently his stint on British talent show Strictly Come Dancing thrust him back into the limelight.

Paul’s career started out decidedly less glamorously. At first he trained to be an accountant in the Civil Service, before getting a job as a junior clerk and then moving on to become an auditor in local government. He later joined his parent’s grocery business and before long he opened his own shop. He eventually gave it up and went on to peruse his long standing passion for magic.

After coming second on the long running British talent show Opportunity Knocks, Paul obtained his first television job on the very same show as a resident magician. In the 1970’s Paul got his own series called For My Next Trick, and by the closing of the decade he was very much in demand. The Paul Daniels Magic Show was commissioned and ran for an incredible 15 years until he bowed out in 1994.

Paul has led a relatively quiet life since then, however he still feels at home on stage doing magic, and as a result he still regularly tours around Britain. Unexpectedly, in 2010 he appeared as a contestant on the popular talent show Strictly Come Dancing, however despite his enthusiasm he was eliminated in week three.

Paul was happy to answer my questions:

Has magic always been something you wanted to do?

I read a book when I was 11 and learnt a magic trick from that. Ever since, despite other jobs until I was 30, I have never stopped reading, studying, learning the magic business.

What’s your favourite magic trick?

I don’t really have one, although I sometimes tell the audience that ‘this’ is my favourite to increase interest in whatever I am performing.

Are there any magic tricks that you HAVEN’T mastered yet?

Thousands, but only because I haven’t needed to master them. Without conceit, I really do believe that I can turn ANY magic effect into an entertaining piece of ‘theatre’ and that is what I mean by ‘mastering’.

Who are your role models as a magician?

By the time I became a full time magician I had seen very few other magicians. I developed my own style be ‘seeing’ me do the tricks I read in books. I never wanted to be the ‘second’ anyone by copying a role model. Of course there were other entertainers that I greatly admired, but I would have been a bad copy of them.

What do you think of modern illusionists such as David Blaine or Derren Brown?

I have never seen either of them do much in the way of illusion. General magic and mind-reading, yes, but not illusion. I have never seen Blaine live so it is difficult to tell whether he can deliver on stage.  His TV work, either by mistake or design, was so heavily edited that I simply don’t know.I did see Derren live and thought the show was very good.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Crikey. There has been so much fun and enjoyment in my working life that it would take a book to list them all.

Have there been any parts of your career that you regret?

Perhaps, just perhaps, waiting until I was 30 to turn pro, and perhaps not keeping a closer eye on my then manager/agent financially. When it comes to money in business, trust no-one.

If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?

I would have to be forced into another job. This one is TOO good. But if I had to I’d be a film actor.

What future plans do you have?

You’ll have to follow my web site for that! This year has some great jobs coming up and that will do fine for me.

What advice would you give to people wanting to get into magic?

Read everything you can about magic and keep full notes on the bits that appeal to you…or you WILL forget them.

Thanks very much.

Any time.

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